Precooling

The first step in good temperature management of perishable commodities is precooling after harvest and before shipment, storage, or processing (7-10). Prompt precooling can reduce commodity respiration, water loss, metabolism, and pathogen growth. This is done using special equipment and rooms, when rapid cooling is essential and eco nomically beneficial. Precooling can be accomplished in refrigerated storage rooms equipped with proper control of airflow.

Precooling methods quickly transfer heat from the produce to a cooling medium, such as water, ice, or air. The rate of transfer depends on the availability of the cooling medium to the commodity, the temperature difference between the medium and the commodity, the type of medium, and the flow rate of the medium. The commercial methods used include hydrocooling, vacuum cooling, air cooling, and icing. The methods used depend on the type of produce, the availability of equipment, facilities, containers, cost, and the proximity to market. See Table 1 for a list of methods of cooling for different commodities.

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